Monday, March 26, 2012

What's the Catch?

It has been a busy week, but yet I do not have too many stories to tell.  The weather has been wonderful until today when it dropped back down to the 30's.

Monday we started teaching a former investigator, Steve.

Tuesday we went on blitz with the Assistant to the Presidents after district meeting.  Elder Williams and I taught an awesome lady from Jamaica, Mazie.

We had a great lesson with a lady who has been investigating the church for the past 9 years, but has not been baptized because her husband won't let her.  She has read the Book of Mormon 3 times.  She has read the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants, and is now reading the Old Testament.  We had Brother Duke come with us from the bishopric, and he was able to introduce himself to the husband who was just getting in as we were leaving.

We also had a good talk with Jim, who we picked up last week.  He is a good guy.

Thursday we had a lesson with Yolanda on the Atonement.  You could tell she really felt the spirit there.

Friday got a phone call from a lady we gave our number to about Christmas time.  She needed some help with some yard work, and her health would not allow her do it.  So we went over and did some work for her.  We are going back next week as well.  It is interesting when she called, because she made sure to say she does not want 'any long sermons,' but when we went over we had a nice conversation about our beliefs with her.  She kept asking us 'whats the catch' no one just comes and does service for free.  She has seen a lot of hypocrisy in the past, and lots of fake people and churches, so that led her away from religion, but I think she is curious about ours.  It will be fun to see what happens there.

We also read Jacob 5-6 with Brother and Sister Cleary.  They loved the allegory of the olive tree (being the teachers they are).

Saturday we had 5 appointments lined up, and all of them fell through!  Frustrating day.  Sunday we had 2 investigators at church.

This morning, Brother Cleary (who is not a member) took us out to see some of the historical sites around town.  We went to the national cemetery, which is the only place in the northern states, where the south did not come remove their soldiers' bodies back south because they feel they were properly buried.  We also went to Mark Twain's grave.  Brother Cleary is a great guy.  He has learned a lot through his studies.  He has a hard time though with believing in Jesus Christ.  But both Elder Duffin and I love to talk with him, and the ward members love him as well.

This week will be busy, and I am so excited for General Confrence.  Tomorrow we have two district meetings to train in.  Then on Wednesday we have one more.  Then after that, we are going on exchange. WOOT!

Elder Shurtz

Monday, March 19, 2012

Men in Black

It has been a good week.  The weather has been in the 60-70's about all week!  It has even hit 80!  This week, I hear, is supposed to do the same.

Monday we went to dinner with Bro Meacham (the girls were sick, Sister Meacham stayed home with them).  Tuesday we picked up a new investigator, Jim.  He is an awesome older gentleman.  Humble, and kind.  We are seeing him again on Wednesday.

Thursday we taught Brother Chocolate's grandkids again.  They have a hard time staying focused, but they do know a lot.

Thursday night we drove up to Auburn and spent the night with them.  Because they were in a threesome it made it 5 elders in the apartment.  We had to get up at 5:20 so we could all shower and get to Utica on time at 9 am for Zone Leader Conference.

ZLC was great!  President is feeling his time is short, and has a lot to share.  It is amazing to listen to Him teach from the scriptures, and to feel the spirit radiate from him.  I know President Bulloch is one of the reasons why I came to this mission.

After ZLC we stopped in Ithaca for the night, because we had an interview to do there on Saturday morning.  We went tracting since the other elders were in a lesson.  Apparently we scared a little girl who does not answer the door very often.  She was so frightened that she called the police!  As we were at the church the next day, the mother called to see if it was us (I left a card at the door).  Luckily the mother was very nice about it.  Her daughter described us as guys with trench coats on.  What a frightful imagination she has to assume we meant her harm!

Saturday we had an awesome lesson with Sister Cleary and her non-member husband on Jabob 1-4.  They both really liked it, and was probably one of the best lessons we have had with Brother Cleary.  Sister Cleary is a great lady, and Brother Cleary is easy to talk to.

Yesterday was Stake Conference.  It was probably one of the best ones I have been to!  Both President and Sister Bulloch spoke (probably since it was the last stake conference before they go home).  The whole stake conference was on 'let your light shine forth.'
We did not have any investigators come though.  grrrrrr...

Well, I love you all and hope you have a great week!  Tomorrow we go on a blitz with the APs and we need to get next week's training ready for when we go visit all the districts.  I'm going to enjoy the weather!

Elder Shurtz

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birthday and a Baptism

It has been a busy one!
Monday we went to the Corning Museum of Glass.  It was awesome.  We saw somebody make a glass plate straight from the melting pot.

I then brought Elder Tollefson back to Elmira to work with me.  This is his first transfer, and he is an amazing missionary.  He will do a lot.  After district meeting I then worked with Elder Wilkins who is working in Owego.  He is enthused about the gospel, and is very polite.  He is going to be training this next transfer (Transfer day is on Wednesday.)

Elder Duffin and I then had fun working together again on Wednesday evening, visiting the Meachams, finalizing plans for the baptism.  They shared a story with us on how they realized one of the families who use to babysit for them were Mormons, and they did not find out till this past week.  It is fun to see them recognize how the Lord has been preparing them for their baptism.

Thursday morning I went to Ithaca to work with Elder Stratton. We had fun.  We taught a lady from China who is going to Ithaca for college.  We focused on recognizing the spirit, since she has never had a religion in her life before.  I hope to see her progress.  We had the lesson with the Branch President and his wife in Ithaca.  It just so happens to be Heather Merrill's in-laws.  So that was a nice surprise.

Friday, we made cookies for an investigator they have been having a hard time getting into, and we got in!  Had a small lesson, then went our way to meet up with the other missionaries at the church.  Elder Duffin and I had a second transfer training for Sister Smith, one of the sister missionaries in Ithaca.  The sisters always have a great spirit [they even made me a cake for my birthday!].  Then we met up with the Elders and went got some wings. YUMMM!  Elder Duffin and I then went home, did some weekly planning, and then worked the rest of the day (lunch was too much for us to eat any dinner).

Saturday was awesome!  The baptism was great!  Well attended.  Besides the little boy hitting his head on the pew, and bleeding quite a bit, it went well.  (He is fine now).  The stake president give a talk on baptism, and his niece did a wonderful musical number.  Then Elder Duffin and I were given the privilege of baptizing them.  Elder Duffin baptized Brother Meacham and Grace (9), while I baptized Sister Meacham and Georgia (11).  The spirit was strong.

That night Elder Duffin took me out to Chili's, in celebration of my birthday.  Just by chance, our ward mission leader was their with his family, and bought us dessert.  (Such a good guy).

We also had transfer calls Saturday night!  Elder Duffin and I are staying together.  Both of my sons (elders I trained), Elder Simmonds, and Elder Hall are going to be training this transfer.

Sunday the Meachams were confirmed.  They are glowing.  Tonight, we have dinner with them.

We also stopped by a less-active member who lives in the middle of nowhere.  At first he was very friendly, but then he went into a rampage of why the church is not true, and all this anti-stuff.  It is scary how dark someone can get when they once had so much light.

This week we are excited for Zone Leader Council!  I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Shurtz


Monday, March 5, 2012

Marching On!

Hello Family!

Can you believe it is already March?  The weather has been off and on all week (nothing new there), but it is way better than last year!

Tuesday at district meeting we had a lady who does the addiction recovery program come and share with us the program, so we could figure out how to best help investigators who are struggling.  One thing she mentioned, which is sad, that most people who are in the program had some sort of sexual abuse in their life which attributed a lot to their addictions.  Smoking seems to be one of the hardest things for people to quit here in New York.

We had an investigator last week drop us, after coming to church a few times, receiving awesome lessons, and reading from the Book of Mormon.  We feel she was anti-ed, but she is ignoring us, and wont even come to the door when we try her house.  It is sad when that happens.  But, Saturday we found some awesome potentials we are excited to start teaching.

Wednesday we taught mutual.  I forgot how difficult it is to keep youth involved and attentive!  I know I do not want to be a teacher when I grow up!  But, Thursday we had dinner with the Stake President, then had our Stake Missionary Coordination Meeting.  His son goes to a Catholic high school, and said one of his friends is seriously interested in learning more.  The friend came to church with him this last week.  He lives in another area, so we wont be teaching him, but he is an awesome kid.

We also started doing service at a food bank this last week.  Mainly we are filtering and sorting food that is donated, and then the food goes out to the different food pantries in the area.  It looks like it is going to be a good opportunity to talk to some good people.

Friday afternoon I went to my first Catholic mass.  This guy we do service with at the food pantry, invited us, so we accepted. (We have given him a Book of Mormon, and he said he would read it the week earlier.) An experience for sure, but it has made me ever more grateful for the restored gospel.  It was just so obvious how much was lost, distorted, and confused through the ages and how much did have to be restored from on high.

Saturday we went back to the Stake President's house for a birthday party Luau for their niece who was turning 16.  They had some non-member friends there and it was a great opportunity to get to know some of them.  They actually cooked a whole pig for it!  (Poor Wilbur.)

Yesterday we had 7 investigators at church!  It was exciting to see them all get there.  One family, Lasean and James, are going through a hard time, but they still came to church, which was awesome!

This week we have 3 exchanges we are going on.  CRAZY!  This afternoon we are headed to Corning, to check out the Museum of Glass (3rd most visited spot in New York.  Niagara Falls, and Statue of Liberty are the others) On my birthday I will be working with Elder Stratton who was my companion on my last birthday.  Fun stuff!  I think we will be going to Wings over Ithaca (These are amazing wings!  They only have them in some areas like Syracuse, Saratoga, and Ithaca) for lunch to celebrate when we switch back.  We also have the sisters in Ithaca we need to do second transfer training with.

The Meachams are super excited for their baptism this Saturday!  It will be a great week!

Elder Shurtz

PS - I found this picture at one of the missionary apartments.  I don't think it is from our mission though.